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Lower Planners OK Project For 3 Homes on Dirt Road

By Jack Fichter

VILLAS — Lower Township Planning Board approved a minor subdivision, June 21, for the creation of three lots where a street does not abut the properties.
The home sites exist along a dirt road that begins at the intersection of Greenwood and Star avenues here, technically an easement for the Lower Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA).
The applicant, Rebecca Chamberlain appeared before the board in April. The application was continued to June to allow her attorney, Vincent Lamanna Jr. to meet with attorney John Batastini representing the nearby Bayshore Sportsman Club, which owns a section of the dirt road from Arizona Avenue and adjacent property.
Lamanna told the board he had an approval from the township’s fire official that the dirt road, even though it is not a mapped street, was sufficient to handle fire trucks and emergency vehicles.
Lamanna agreed to give prospective buyers of the lots a notice of disclosure informing them of the activities of the adjacent gun club. The club has a shooting range that is used by its members and police departments. Deeds would contain similar warnings.
The club had concerns the dirt road would carry additional traffic as a result of the three new home sites, he said.
Lamanna said one of the three lots may not be buildable due to wetlands issues.
Batastini said the Villas fire chief assured him that, in an emergency, the fire department did not need access from the Arizona Avenue end of the dirt road which goes through the Sportsman Club’s property to get to the three proposed homes.
He said Greenwood Avenue would offer sufficient access.
Board member Robert Nolan, also deputy mayor, expressed concern the dirt road could not support the weight of fire engines and trash trucks. He said he did want to see township taxpayers receive a bill to pave or maintain the dirt road.
Engineer Vincent Orlando, representing Chamberlain, said existing homes on the dirt road received trash pick up and snow removal. He said it would be the responsibility of homeowners to maintain the road.
Lamanna said that could be made a deed restriction. He said another condition of approval would be that homeowners would leave their trashcans at the corner of Greenwood and Star avenues, so trash trucks do not traverse the dirt road.
Township Planning Director Bill Galestock questioned the logic of prohibiting trash pick up to new “$700,000 homes” when their neighbors have it.
Orlando said the road could be designated a private driveway, so the township bears no responsibility for its maintenance. He said signs would be placed at the intersection of Greenwood and Star avenues noting it is a private driveway.
Existing houses on the dirt road could continue to receive trash pick up with trucks entering from Arizona Avenue, said Orlando. He said 135-feet of the road was located on township-owned property and the applicant would request an easement from township council.
If the township refuses an easement, access to the home sites would be moved onto Chamberlain’s property, said Orlando.
The board concurred with member Charles Garrison who asked a gate be constructed at the start of “private driveway,” subject to the approval of the township fire official.

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